The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly today received government approval of the next stage of the Enhanced Provision of Elective Care Programme and progression of the development of new Elective Hospitals in Cork and Galway.
The development of elective hospitals will change the way in which day case, scheduled procedures, surgeries, scans and outpatient services can be better arranged across the country, ensuring greater capacity in the future and help to address waiting lists.
The preferred sites, recommended to be brought forward into the planning phase, are at St Stephen's Hospital, Sarsfield Court in Cork, and Merlin Park in Galway.
The Cork centre with nine planned theatres, seven endoscopy suites and nine minor operation rooms is expected to provide 180,000 extra procedures, treatments and diagnostic appointments per year.
The Galway centre with a planned eight operating theatres, seven endoscopy suites and nine minor operation rooms is forecast to provide 175,000 additional procedures, treatments and diagnostic appointments per year.
Mr Donnelly said: "I am delighted that Government has approved our plans for the Elective Care Programme and in particular for the sites at Cork and Galway. The development of these facilities represents a major change in how we’ll deliver quality care based on future demand. By separating elective (scheduled) from emergency (unscheduled) care, we will be able to deliver better care and outcomes for all patients.
"Additionally, the HSE will progress proposals for ‘surgical hubs’ which can quickly deliver elective care complementary to the electives programme."
The Elective Hospitals will be focused on providing Day case, GI Endoscopy, minor operations, outpatient treatment and outpatient diagnostics services. These cases are relatively low acuity and high-volume in their nature (for example: operations relating to cataracts, gallstones, hernias and tonsils).
The new Hospitals will deliver greater certainty for patients who will benefit from being given an appointment date in an Elective Hospital rather than being placed on a waiting list under the current system. The separation of emergency (unscheduled) and elective (scheduled) care will lead to fewer cancellations and delays for elective care caused by seasonal surges, localised outbreaks, and surges in emergency attendances.
The new national Elective Hospitals will deliver additional capacity for our growing and aging population and reduce patient waiting times for elective care. Early access to care can help to avoid patient conditions from deteriorating further while waiting for treatment. This will lead to better health outcomes and improved quality of life for those individuals being treated and their families. The greater elective care capacity created will also release capacity in existing hospitals for non-elective and inpatient activity.